Shameless Commerce

December 18, 2011

Still looking for that perfect gift this Christmas? Every kid wants The Agrarian Vision: Sustainability and Environmental Ethics. Shop for it at Amazing dot com right cheah. Just imagine the joy on those cherubic faces next Sunday when they shred the wrapping paper from that package ‘neath the tree to discover their own personal copy of this scintillating, entertaining and (of course) edifying book. It’s the Kewpie doll, the Barbie, the Cabbage Patch Kid, the Pet Rock, the Tickle Me Elmo of the Oh Teens. I promise. And unlike Elmo, The Agrarian Vision does not require batteries! That is, unless you get the Kindle version, which is in fact available. For a limited time only, the author will be offering to personally autograph your copy at no additional charge (try that with a Kindle). Nothing will please your tots and toddlers (not to mention those from nine to ninety) than the gift that keeps on giving: a lifetime of personal enlightenment about the deep philosophical significance of the CSA way!

Well, maybe not. There was that bonehead Santa that brought my daughter a copy of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web back when she was about seven or eight years old. I’ll never forget the disappointment on her face that Christmas morning. And “some pig” The Agrarian Vision ain’t. So here’s an idea: make a donation to the Thornapple CSA in your child’s name! There’s a link right on this very webpage where you can find the information you need. Just imagine their excitement when they learn that this important social institution in mid-Michigan has gotten the boost it needs, and that they are being personally commemorated by your gift. And just think about how much they will respect you for making a charitable gift to an organization that is not even a recognized charity, and that therefore lacks the attendant tax advantages. If you think the subtleties of tax policy are lost on the younger generation, well all I can say is “Don’t sell the children short, my friend.”

On the other hand, a charitable donation is a bit abstract. Even I admit that it takes up too little room under the tree. So maybe you should give your teenager his or her very own subscription to the Thornapple CSA. They will enjoy a good seven to eight months of healthy and delicious fresh fruits and vegetables. And in accordance with our philosophy (see The Agrarian Vision above) these little buds and bodices are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. They aren’t technically organic, but that’s because the United States Department of Agriculture (in its infinite wisdom) requires expensive certification procedures for all fruits and vegetables that are represented as “organic”. And we’re just a poor Community Supported Agriculture, not for profit but too preoccupied with doing good works to have completed the forms for non-profit status with the Eye Are Ess, so we pinch our pennies and we don’t pay for organic certification. If this bothers you, see “charitable donation” in the above paragraph. Yes, nothing soothes the adolescent soul more than a big box of homegrown tomatoes! It’s the perfect gift for those of you considering the ubiquitous “gift card”.

Except that nothing happens until at least April, and not much of a serious nature until late May. And we can all recall how good we were at delayed gratification in our own adolescent years. So what’s left? Well, looking back to 2009’s Thornapple Blog, we might suggest egg nog. In the words of Jerry Jeff Walker (from his beloved holiday classic “Christmas in Jail”): “Egg nog? Egg nog! Yeah, I’ll have some egg nog.”

I just haven’t figured out how to make a buck on it.

Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University

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